To the River Itchen

William Lisle Bowles

Itchin! when I behold thy banks again,
  Thy crumbling margin, and thy silver breast,
  On which the self-same tints still seem to rest,
Why feels my heart a shivering sense of pain!
Is it, that many a summer's day has past
  Since, in life's morn, I carolled on thy side!
  Is it, that oft since then my heart has sighed,
As Youth, and Hope's delusive gleams, flew fast!
  Is it, that those who gathered on thy shore,
  Companions of my youth, now meet no more!
Whate'er the cause, upon thy banks I bend,
  Sorrowing; yet feel such solace at my heart,
As at the meeting of some long-lost friend,
From whom, in happier hours, we wept to part.


Author's own note: The Itchin is a river running from Winchester to Southampton, the banks of which have been the scene of many a holiday sport. The lines were composed on an evening in a journey from Oxford to Southampton, the first time I had seen the Itchin since I left school.

William Lisle Bowles went to school at the famous Winchester College.

The Itchen is one of the world's finest trout-fishing rivers.